Fingerstyle Guitar: Can You Do It?

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I had never looked at gary davis's fingerings, and out of curiosity I found him on youtube -- whadya know, plays with his thumb and index too:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlQZwHcBqyQ

space phwoar (Hurting 2), Thursday, 28 February 2013 17:16 (five years ago) Permalink

Lenny Breau used the ring finger and eventually started using the pinky as well I think. As as result when he would drop by to see his mentor Chet Atkins and show him some new stuff at some point Chet couldn't play it.

Johnny Too Borad (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 28 February 2013 17:39 (five years ago) Permalink

Is everything I've ever read on the Internet about travis picking wrong? I thought it was a specific pattern:


x---x--
--x----
-t---t-
t--t---

(any four strings, t=thumb, x=other finger/s of choice)

ledge, Thursday, 28 February 2013 17:56 (five years ago) Permalink

Bottom is right, mostly, although you could reverse the order and thumb a higher string first. Top could be anything. Also it is not limited to four strings, you could be using thumb on bottom two or three strings and the fingers on the top three or four.

Johnny Too Borad (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 28 February 2013 17:59 (five years ago) Permalink

Yeah was just trying to keep the diagram simple!

ledge, Thursday, 28 February 2013 18:01 (five years ago) Permalink

The specific pattern is that the thumb never stops playing quarter notes. Maybe we forgot to mention that.

Johnny Too Borad (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 28 February 2013 18:05 (five years ago) Permalink

Hm. actually the dashes don't seem right in that diagram even for the thumb.

Just saw a guy playing a six string bass fingerstyle like a guitar.

Johnny Too Borad (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 1 March 2013 04:11 (five years ago) Permalink

That lick mark knopfler plays before yelling "ha!" during the "in the gallery" solo is the reason one might want to sound snappy on an electric

that Django got me Nuages (Sufjan Grafton), Friday, 1 March 2013 07:11 (five years ago) Permalink

Hm. actually the dashes don't seem right in that diagram even for the thumb.

oh yeah i missed a gap, first notes (the pinch) are quarter, the rest are eighths.


x----x--
---x----
--t---t-
t---t---

ledge, Friday, 1 March 2013 09:14 (five years ago) Permalink

interested to know what fahey tunes you play, hurting. are they tricky? in alternate tunings?

ledge, Friday, 1 March 2013 15:29 (five years ago) Permalink

I play Orinda-Moraga/Poor Boy Long Ways from Home pretty decently (alternate tuning), I can pick my way through Bicycle Built for Two ok (I play in standard but I'm not sure that's how he does it), and also Requiem for John Hurt when I'm in practice (a favorite)

space phwoar (Hurting 2), Friday, 1 March 2013 15:48 (five years ago) Permalink

the triplets on Requiem for John Hurt are pretty tricky

space phwoar (Hurting 2), Friday, 1 March 2013 15:49 (five years ago) Permalink

Oh and Jesus is a Dying Bedmaker -- one of the best song titles ever

space phwoar (Hurting 2), Friday, 1 March 2013 15:54 (five years ago) Permalink

cheers. they mostly sound if not look well beyond my level but it's good to have goals.

ledge, Friday, 1 March 2013 16:06 (five years ago) Permalink

not just good, necessary. if i don't have something to work towards i end up treading water or not even playing at all.

ledge, Friday, 1 March 2013 16:11 (five years ago) Permalink

The easiest of them would be Orinda-Moraga -- the bend thing is a neat trick that's simple once you get it down

space phwoar (Hurting 2), Friday, 1 March 2013 16:16 (five years ago) Permalink

One of my all-time faves:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLeqnEDF7jU

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Friday, 1 March 2013 16:47 (five years ago) Permalink

Can do it a bit but not very well, too lazy tbh, flatpickers of the world unite!

.... the rest look like Dudley Sutton (Tom D.), Friday, 1 March 2013 16:50 (five years ago) Permalink

^^ James Taylor explains about nails

inste grammophon (rogermexico.), Friday, 1 March 2013 18:43 (five years ago) Permalink

im starting to play rudimentary fingerstyle travis picking crabclaw whatever. i've just got the basic premise of it and i'm like too in love with this thing that i can make and just play with it all the time, not really progressing. i learnt like wildwood flower and then just played with the scale and chord combinations.

plax (ico), Saturday, 2 March 2013 01:29 (five years ago) Permalink

i think my housemates are pretty bored of this sound now

plax (ico), Saturday, 2 March 2013 01:29 (five years ago) Permalink

Learn this, it's easier than it sounds

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFAsoKHepRI

plotzin (flamboyant goon tie included), Saturday, 2 March 2013 02:19 (five years ago) Permalink

Plax, can you do "Blackbird" already?

EveningStar (Sund4r), Saturday, 2 March 2013 04:10 (five years ago) Permalink

no but lol i hate the beatles. this is ilx!

plax (ico), Saturday, 2 March 2013 10:51 (five years ago) Permalink

Boots of Spanish leather is a good starter song. Downside is it'll make you miserable

that Django got me Nuages (Sufjan Grafton), Saturday, 2 March 2013 20:07 (five years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

g-d i wish i could play guitar

well if it isn't old 11 cameras simon (gbx), Sunday, 24 March 2013 19:00 (five years ago) Permalink

I wish I could play a good fingerstyle, but instead I'm all:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f51QWBM7IME

Working on that Travis picking, though. I get discouraged easily. I think I listen to Will Ackerman and Leo Kottke and just expect to play like them after twenty minutes of practice.

Sometimes I tune to dadgad and I get 'choon or two going though:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOxJeoNFl3E

I have a steel strung and a nylon strung guitar. I find that practicing finger picking on the wider-necked nylon guitar makes chords a lot easier when I switch back to the steel string (almost to the point that I feel like I'm cheating).

I tune down to c# to make everything a bit easier, generally speaking. For some reason, things that need to be in standard tuning are just easier to fret with the capo at three; rather than just tuning up to E (maybe that's a mental thing though and I should get over it).

I was recently told to listen to John Hurt because even though what he's playing isn't that easy, it **SOUNDS** easy and is, therefore, easy to follow.

Austin, Friday, 5 April 2013 07:10 (five years ago) Permalink

on top of the difference in tension, i imagine you're getting better action with the capo'd fret vs. the nut.

i've been trying to learn finger style stuff, but life's in the way of that most of the time. i can play most of a skip james song, and the first few parts of "angie" (jansch's version) but uhh that's really hard. i started with a hybrid style but cuz i can't keep track of picks it's turned into a thumb-and-fingers thing. somehow i imagined the solution to this was "buy fingerpicks".

arby's, Friday, 5 April 2013 14:45 (five years ago) Permalink

I think the sound of fingerpicks is very nice, much nicer than bare finger/nail on steel strings. It's also loud though, and I mostly practice at night, so I stuff a shirt in my guitar and play bare-fingered.

--808 542137 (Hurting 2), Friday, 5 April 2013 14:47 (five years ago) Permalink

the problem i have with fingerpicks is how clumsey i feel with them. i also have less control tonally with the picks vs my fingers (which fyi for me is the difference between none and very little). and then the volume thing. i can't play loudly with my fingers, but i'm convinced i should figure that out. i was fortunate enough to hear this guy play a guitar i built and i'm always shocked at how much volume and projection the dude gets with just his fingertips (uses a thumbpick tho, iirc):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZiQGO1YfEc

arby's, Friday, 5 April 2013 15:02 (five years ago) Permalink

have you played with different size/material picks and with bending the metal ones to fit better? I find they're less clumsy with a good fit. I also prefer the metal to the plastic, in part because you can shape them.

--808 542137 (Hurting 2), Friday, 5 April 2013 15:09 (five years ago) Permalink

yep, i have metal ones. nice low friction cobalt things. i am just clumsey. almost feels like playing with gloves on--probably just a matter of me adjusting to them.

arby's, Friday, 5 April 2013 15:13 (five years ago) Permalink

five months pass...

Was supposed to go to a Brazilian guitar seminar today but don't think I can make it. If you are a thrifty/needy nylon string guitar player in NYC I might could donate my spot to you.

I Am the Cosimo Code (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 21 September 2013 14:01 (five years ago) Permalink

You are a nylon-string player, JR&B?

EveningStar (Sund4r), Saturday, 21 September 2013 20:55 (five years ago) Permalink

I own a nylon string and have been trying to play for the past two years so I guess the answer is yes, sort of.

I Am the Cosimo Code (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 21 September 2013 21:25 (five years ago) Permalink

I wish I could play with my fingers on guitar more, really just be able to arpeggiate much better in general. I'm pretty decent at some alternate picking, but I haven't even gotten to the point on bass I play with my fingers much. I do pick out some chords pretty well with a pick with alternate picking.

earlnash, Sunday, 22 September 2013 04:28 (five years ago) Permalink

I've been growing and strengthening the nails on my right hand for fingerpicking purposes, but I've found this is impeding my bass playing. Is it possible to do both?

Pingu Unchained (dog latin), Monday, 30 September 2013 10:46 (five years ago) Permalink

Good question.

I Am the Cosimo Code (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 30 September 2013 12:37 (five years ago) Permalink

five months pass...

You could always glue on fake nails for your guitar gigs and take them off for your bass gigs but I imagine that would grow tiresome.

We Shield Millions Now Living Who Will Never Die (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 24 March 2014 12:10 (four years ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...

Have a good book to recommend to beginners, if anyone is interested.

Kid Creole Meets Señor Coconut at a fIREHOSE Show (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 21 April 2014 14:17 (four years ago) Permalink

yeah sure!

goole, Monday, 21 April 2014 14:50 (four years ago) Permalink

Fingerstyle Guitar From Scratch, by Bruce Emery.

Kid Creole Meets Señor Coconut at a fIREHOSE Show (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 21 April 2014 14:55 (four years ago) Permalink

I will check it out. I often practice from this. But as the reviews say, you learn from playing the songs with very little instruction.

Sufjan Cougar Mellencamp (Sufjan Grafton), Monday, 21 April 2014 14:59 (four years ago) Permalink

(Xp) Or Travis-Style Guitar From Scratch, by the same author.

Kid Creole Meets Señor Coconut at a fIREHOSE Show (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 21 April 2014 15:02 (four years ago) Permalink

looks intersting, thx

goole, Monday, 21 April 2014 15:20 (four years ago) Permalink

i'm a lefty, play guitar righty, and find it easier to play fingerstyle than with a pick. i played piano for many years before picking up guitar, which may have helped.

sikeclops, Monday, 21 April 2014 19:48 (four years ago) Permalink

Lefty too. Have had a lot of trouble taming right hand since I came over from bass and at some point was playing mostly one finger at slow-medium tempos. And no ring finger obv.

Kid Creole Meets Señor Coconut at a fIREHOSE Show (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 21 April 2014 20:37 (four years ago) Permalink

I'll keep that in mind for guitar students, thanks. What are its strengths iyo?

EveningStar (Sund4r), Tuesday, 22 April 2014 01:21 (four years ago) Permalink

I didn't find your tone particularly snippy, I'm used to you by now:) Your advice in general has been very helpful so far, really, thanks for taking the time. Now that I think about it, I did order a music book from Canada once. The Jazz Bass Line Book, by Mike Downes. Recommended highly by another Canadian bass player, Don Thompson.

Bee Traven Thousand (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 2 May 2014 01:39 (four years ago) Permalink

five months pass...

Prasanna is no longer associated with that school.

Was assigned one of those Giuliani exercises this week.

The "5" Astronomer Royales (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 3 October 2014 03:35 (four years ago) Permalink

Sorry, étude not exercise.

You Better Go Ahn (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 4 October 2014 00:20 (four years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

It's Merle Travis's birthday today, so I would like you all to spend an extra half hour at least on your Travis picking.

Wall of Def Jam (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 29 November 2016 21:28 (two years ago) Permalink

yes sir!

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 29 November 2016 21:34 (two years ago) Permalink

object lesson
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YC8LQ1UQO8k

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 29 November 2016 21:38 (two years ago) Permalink

six months pass...

Just came across a discussion this and can't figure out what to make of it: https://www.classicalguitarcorner.com/an-argument-against-memorization/

Guidonian Handsworth Revolution (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 11 June 2017 00:37 (one year ago) Permalink

As someone who cannot read music, after reading that, I now feel even more like a total hack when I pick up a guitar. Cheers.

Austin, Sunday, 11 June 2017 02:00 (one year ago) Permalink

I dream of being good enough to consider myself a hack.

The XX pants (ledge), Sunday, 11 June 2017 09:03 (one year ago) Permalink

two months pass...

I've never been to the Banff Centre, actually.

Is this still the case?

Barkis Garvey (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 11 August 2017 20:08 (one year ago) Permalink

one month passes...

The ever-challenging thing is remembering these classical etudes: which left hand and right hand finger is doing what. Do much better if I figure out what the harmony is and use that to keep track of where I am supposed to be.

Merry-Go-Sorry Somehow (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 24 September 2017 21:57 (one year ago) Permalink

Guess I just going to follow Sund4r's advice on the other thread and put the metronome on super slow and then inch it up when possible.

Merry-Go-Sorry Somehow (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 24 September 2017 23:08 (one year ago) Permalink

Inch worm
Inch worm
Measuring the marigolds

Merry-Go-Sorry Somehow (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 24 September 2017 23:09 (one year ago) Permalink

That's generally good but esp with classical, it can also sometimes help to remember to avoid 'broken record' practising. I'm trying to make sure I apply 'deliberate practice' as described here: https://lifehacker.com/5939374/a-better-way-to-practice . It can make a big difference. It helps to focus on a little bit (e.g. a phrase) at a time, identify specific problem areas, then target those (by slowing down, IDing the block, then inching up after fixing it).

No purposes. Sounds. (Sund4r), Monday, 25 September 2017 01:10 (one year ago) Permalink

Well, I did for quite a bit until I got fatigued and I stopped :) Thanks for the article. I read the Ericsson book mentioned there and recommend it. I believe Ericsson uses the term "Purposeful Practice."

I used to talk about this stuff at lunch with a guy who plays the cello who would discuss it in terms very similar to those in that article. He also had a really good story about how one Hungarian pianist practiced, György something, Sándor, maybe, but I have to see if I can remember how it went.

Merry-Go-Sorry Somehow (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 25 September 2017 01:43 (one year ago) Permalink

I can play "Bron-yr-aur' in glorious CACGCE

calstars, Monday, 25 September 2017 02:01 (one year ago) Permalink

cool.

Sund4r, debating whether to email you a link to this piece I am trying to learn and ask whether you have played it or have opinions about the fingering.

The 2541ders (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 27 September 2017 02:03 (one year ago) Permalink

Feel free. I can try to get to it on the weekend.

No purposes. Sounds. (Sund4r), Wednesday, 27 September 2017 12:50 (one year ago) Permalink

Sent

Two-Headed Shindog (Rad Tempo Player) (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 30 September 2017 01:37 (one year ago) Permalink

Must confess I have never been able to sight-read - indeed can't read at all - after decades of periodic attempts of varying seriousness.

That said, I started with a nylon-stringed classical guitar, mainly because my mother had one around the house. She was an old folkie type, and I guess in the 60s it was pretty common to learn guitar that way. Nylon is kinder to fingers. I think I worked clumsily through some books of fingerstyle tab. Paul Simon, Suzanne Vega, Clapton, Gilberto.

I still play fingerstyle on my mother's old guitar sometimes. Occasionally I will do something fingerstyley on steel-stringed acoustic. I tend to like guitars with wider nuts, because the spacing accommodates fingerstyle playing better.

But I've never quite gotten the hang of fingerstyle on electric. It's so quiet compared to picking, and accommodating that drop in volume is difficult if I want to do both inside a given song, or even within a given gig.

cornballio (Ye Mad Puffin), Thursday, 5 October 2017 15:09 (one year ago) Permalink

For a long time I had this weird stubborn thing about not picking with my ring finger, only using the thumb index and middle. Lately I've finally reincorporated the ring finger again and it really opens up a lot of possibilities, not sure what I was on about.

IF (Terrorist) Yes, Explain (man alive), Monday, 9 October 2017 04:26 (one year ago) Permalink


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